NHS Pensions Service Charter

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1 NHS Pensions Service Charter Our role and responsibilities in centrally administering the NHS Pension Scheme This document has been produced by the NHS Business Services Authority with the intent to compliment and support the Pension Employer s Charter produced in partnership and agreed by the Department of Health, NHS Employers and the National Employers Pensions Group. V1 02/2013 V0.8 10/2011

2 Contents This document contains information about the role and responsibilities of NHS Pensions. This is organised under the following headings: Foreword Introduction 1. The NHS Pension Scheme An Overview 2. Our Remit 3. Our Key Performance Targets 4. NHS Pensions Our Stakeholders 5. Working with Our Stakeholders 5.1 Annual Satisfaction Surveys 6. Our Functions 6.1 Policy Development and Implementation 6.2 Provision of Scheme Information and Administration Tools 6.3 Administration of Contributions 6.4 Receipt, Processing and Storage of Membership Data 6.5 Administration of Members Pension Events 6.6 Scheme Accountancy and Valuation 6.7 Other Important Activities 2

3 7. What support do we provide? 7.1 Contacting us for help or assistance 7.2 Making a formal complaint 7.3 When will this Charter be updated? 8. Glossary of Terms 3

4 Foreword I am proud to be part of the largest Pension Scheme in Europe with a total membership of over 2.4 million active, deferred and retired members. We are all individuals who have collectively contributed to the delivery of NHS patient care. I believe we have the right to expect that the service provided by NHS Pensions is effective, efficient and meets their needs at all times. As both a member, and the Senior Accountable Officer for the central administration of the NHS Pension Scheme, I welcome the publication of our own service charter which makes clear our roles and responsibilities in administering the Scheme. This follows on from our publication of similar charters for employers and members. Taken together, these three documents represent how we can all work in a partnership based on mutual understanding and co-operation to deliver an effective and efficient Scheme. Working in partnership with all of our stakeholders, and understanding your expectations, will be vital to how we meet the future challenges facing the NHS Pension Scheme. Nick Scholte NHS Business Services Authority, Chief Executive & Senior Accountable Officer for central administration of the NHS Pension Scheme. February

5 Introduction The purpose of this document is to clearly set-out the role and responsibilities* of NHS Pensions as central administrator of the NHS Pension Scheme. This is important because these responsibilities have evolved over time due to a number of factors. The key ones being: The introduction of new or amended legislation which is applicable to the rules of the NHS Pensions Scheme or the way it must be administered. The continually evolving structure of the NHS and the changes this has meant in terms of scheme access and membership entitlements. The introduction, application and continual improvement of modern technology to support local pension administration and the provision of information. The changing requirements and expectations of Scheme Members in terms of the standard of customer service they expect. Separate documents titled the Employers Charter and Members Charter outline the respective role and responsibilities of Scheme Employers and Scheme Members to complement the contents of this document. (*This document outlines the role and responsibilities of NHS Pensions at a high level it does not seek to document and explain how each of our individual duties contained are performed at a detailed level. Administrative guidance in regard to most of our administrative functions can be found on our website 5

6 1: The NHS Pension Scheme An Overview The NHS Pension Scheme exists to provide pension provision and associated benefits for all eligible NHS employees and those in equivalent roles in non NHS organisations where Direction Body status has been granted by the Secretary of State of Health in England and Wales. The Scheme is financed through the collection of contributions from employees and employers which are paid to the Exchequer. These in turn meet the cost of paying benefits as and when they are due. The Scheme is an occupational defined benefit pension scheme, backed by the Exchequer, that operates under regulations made by the Secretary of State for Health. It is governed by rules laid down in regulations agreed by Parliament (the National Health Service Regulations 1995 (as amended) and The National Health Service Regulations 2008 (as amended). These regulations are also bound by relevant primary legislations relevant to Occupational Pension Schemes. Scheme Employers, also known as Employing Authorities are defined in regulations. Their employees have an automatic right to join the NHS Pension Scheme if the employee themselves are eligible under the Scheme s rules. Non-NHS employers may apply for the status of a Direction Body in order that the staff they employ may join or continue within the NHS Pension Scheme. The primary duty of these employers is to undertake local scheme administration duties (as outlined in the Employers Charter) to enable the central administration duties of NHS Pensions. The three key undertakings being the provision of valid data to NHS Pensions, administration of local pension events and the collection and submission of scheme contributions. 6

7 To give an indication of scale as at 31 March 2012 there were 8,394 participating GP Practice employers, 474 Direction Bodies and 438 participating Primary Care Trusts (PCT), NHS Trusts, Local Health Boards (LHB), Arm s Length Bodies (ALB) and Special Health Authorities (SHA). The following table providing a further breakdown of these: Organisation Type No. of participating employers PCT 152 Trusts 108 The NHS Pension Scheme broadly caters for two different groups of Members depending on the individual s role in the NHS; Practitioner Members and non-practitioner Members (known as Officers). Practitioner Members includes GP s, General Dental Providers and Medical Ophthalmic Providers who are self-employed and hold a contract with the NHS for provision of services. The NHS Pension Scheme has around 55,000 Practitioner Members, and 1.3 million non-practitioner Members. In addition, there are around 560,000 individuals with deferred benefits (known as Deferred Members) and over 670,000 Benefit Recipients (predominately consisting of Scheme Pensioners). Welsh Trusts 7 LHB s 2 Foundation Trusts 142 SHA s 8 ALB s 19 Direction Bodies 474 GP Practices : The NHS Pension Scheme An Overview 7

8 2: Our Remit The NHS Pensions Scheme has been an integral part of the NHS reward package since it was established in Since its inception effective administration of the Scheme has depended upon effective and timely interaction between the various organisations that collectively constitute the NHS as local administrators (and other organisations given dispensation to provide membership of the NHS Pension Scheme i.e. Direction Bodies) and a central Scheme administrator (NHS Pensions). The central aspect of this is the need for accurate and up-to-date membership information to be collected locally and provided to NHS Pensions to enable central administrative functions to be undertaken. A summary of the key functions of the local and central administrator roles are detailed in the table below: Local Administrator (Scheme Employers) Undertake local administrative procedures with Scheme Members in regard to Pension Events as required. Provide Scheme Members with information about the Scheme. Collect the correct level of contributions from Scheme Members and pay these (together with the correct amount of Employers Contributions) to the NHS Pensions on a monthly basis. Maintain and provide accurate and timely membership data about Scheme Members to NHS Pensions as needed. Central Administrator (NHS Pensions) Administer and process Pension Events for Scheme Members making benefit payments as necessary. Produce and publish information about the Scheme. Collect and check contributions received from Scheme Employers against membership records on an annual or retrospective basis. Maintain accurate and up-to-date records within the central administrative database and processing systems for Scheme Members using data provided by Scheme Employers. Undertake a scheme accountancy role preparing the NHS Pension Scheme s accounts and performing a financial monitoring and forecasting function. 8

9 NHS Pensions (as part of the NHS Business Services Authority) is directly accountable to the Department of Health s Workforce Directorate for its remit and performance. They are the policy owners of the NHS Pension Scheme on behalf of the Secretary of State for Health and also provide the NHSBSA with the necessary revenue and capital funding necessary for NHS Pensions annual operations and to undertake and implement change projects respectively. We have a formal Memorandum of Understanding which is reviewed, agreed and signed on an annual basis as part of our formal governance arrangements. This sets out our functions and duties as a service and details the framework that we must operate within. 2: Our Remit 9

10 3: Our Key Performance Targets In this section are the key performance targets that we are accountable for delivering. We monitor our performance against these on a monthly basis and report to our parent organisation the NHS Business Service Authority and the Department of Health. These targets are reviewed each year as part of our formal Governance processes. Pension Processing Indicator Target Notes Payment of benefits (T8 Cases) On-Time Awards Late Awards Substitute Awards 99.50% by one calendar month following the award due date 99.50% by one calendar month following the award due date 98.00% by one calendar month following the award due date Due date is the date the pension becomes payable or the date all necessary information is available to calculate the value of the qualifying payment Death Death Gratuity % by one calendar month the award due date Due date is either: the day after the day of death, Death Widow(ers) Pension Death Child Allowance 97.00% by one calendar month the award due date 98.50% by one calendar month the award due date the day probate or letters of administration are received, if relevant, or the date all necessary information is available to calculate the value of the payment Refunds 99.50% within 1 calendar month following the due date. Due date is the day after receipt of all necessary information to calculate the value of the payment 10

11 Indicator Target Notes Provision of information (Statutory Cases) Estimate (Practitioner) Estimate (Officer) Pensions on Divorce CETV (Cash Equivalent Transfer Value) Transfer In Stage 1 Estimate Transfer Out Stage 1 Estimate Transfer Out Stage 2 Payment 5-Yr Rejoiners CETV (Cash Equivalent Transfer Value) 97.50% within our statutory target of 40 working days 95.00% within our statutory target of 40 working days 95.00% within our statutory target of three calendar months 98.00% within our statutory target of 2 calendar months 95.00% within our statutory target of 3 calendar months 99.70% within our statutory target of 6 calendar months 99.00% within our statutory target of 3 calendar months Data Integrity (Targets for 2013/14 Year Only) Data Integrity (ensuring members records are updated by at least 94% at the end of the financial year) 80% by 31 July (following year end) 90% by 30 September (following year end) 92% by 31 December (following year end) 94% by 31 March (following year end) It should be noted that meeting these targets is not within the individual capability of NHS Pensions as the Central Adminstrator. This is in reality a shared target with all Scheme Employers 3: Our Key Performance Targets 11

12 Indicator Target Notes Call Centre Member and Employer Helpline Call Referral clearance at Fleetwood Calls Answered NHSBSA answer 70% of calls within 20 seconds Calls Abandoned NHSBSA Abandon call rate does not exceed 5% 98.00% within our service level agreement of 48 hours of original call. Accuracy Payments (pre-release errors) Case Administration (prerelease errors) 98.50% 98.50% Finance Statutory Pension Contributions All Main Employers pay pension contributions by 19 of each month following the prior month payroll All Directions Employers pay pension contributions by 19 of each month following the prior month payroll All GP Practice Employers pay pension contributions by 19 of each month following the prior month payroll 98.00% 95.00% 95.00% It should be noted that meeting these targets is not within the individual capability of NHS Pensions as the Central Adminstrator. This is in reality a shared target with all Scheme Employers 12

13 Pensioner Payments Indicator Target Notes Payments to all Pensioners % After initial payment made. New Officers where award is due for payment % % 85.00% % BACS automatic notifications paid within 7 working days. Payment issued for printing in Voucher cases in 3 working days. BACS manual notifications paid within 7 working days. BACS manual notifications paid within 10 working days. Accuracy 99.90% All pension calculations. 3: Our Key Performance Targets 13

14 4: NHS Pensions Our Stakeholders The key stakeholders of NHS Pensions in centrally administering the NHS Pension Scheme are: Scheme Members There are three types of scheme members. Active those who are currently contributing to the Scheme, Deferred those who are not contributing to Scheme but have yet to claim their accrued benefits, Benefit Claimants/Recipients those who have claimed or received their scheme benefits. NHS Trade Unions The recognised official unions of the NHS who represent the views of employees within workforce policy discussions. They include the Royal College of Nursing, Unison, the British Medical Association and Unite. Scheme Employers All Employing Organisations who employ active members of the NHS Pension Scheme. This includes all NHS organisations and those granted Direction Status. NHS Pensions will also interact with any third party payroll provider engaged by the respective employer. NHS Employers An organisation which represents the collective voice of NHS Organisations in regard to Workforce Policy including the NHS Pension Scheme. Department of Health The Scheme Owner who sets the regulations and instructions relating to scheme administration. They also provide funding for the operation of NHS Pensions. Xafinity Paymaster A key supplier to NHS Pensions who provide the IT system and infrastructure required to maintain and administer the Scheme, provide all payment functions and provide a variety of support services. Government Actuaries Department The part of Government responsible for ongoing valuation and actuarial assessment of Public Sector Pension Schemes. The Pension Regulator The UK s regulator of work-based pension schemes. 14

15 Pensions Ombudsman The UK s official independent body which investigates and settles complaints between Scheme Members and Scheme Administrators. NHS Electronic Staff Record Team ESR is the principal system through which payroll and pensions data is administered and processed within the NHS. The majority of membership data provided to NHS Pensions is received from ESR. NHS Pensions Scheme Administrators in Scotland and Northern Ireland - These are separate schemes who operate in a similar way to NHS Pensions in Scotland and Northern Ireland. We work closely with them to share best practice and provide mutual support and guidance. The Media Consisting primarily of members of the national, regional and specialist press who require information about the NHS Pension Scheme. 4: NHS Pensions Our Stakeholders 15

16 5: Working with Our Stakeholders NHS Pensions is committed to working in partnership with our various stakeholders. This section outlines the regular key activities that we undertake to meet this commitment to ensure that we effectively engage, consult and seek feedback as required. Activity Executive Steering Group Accountability Meetings Technical Advisory Group / Governance Group NHS Pensions / ESR Meetings Monthly Service Meeting National Employers Group Description A bi-monthly meeting to discuss the NHS Pension Scheme s landscape and progress against performance targets and business change requirements. A quarterly meeting to discuss the service performance of NHS Pensions. A regular meeting to discuss at a policy level future scheme rules and implementation requirements. Regular monthly meeting to discuss coding changes, user notices, data transfer and outstanding issues. To review and discuss service performance provided by Xafinity Paymaster to NHS Pensions. A quarterly meeting to discuss strategic level scheme administrative issues. Attending Stakeholders (in addition to NHS Pensions) Department of Health NHS Employers ESR Department of Health Department of Health NHS Trade Unions Government Actuaries Department ESR Xafinity Paymaster ESR Chairs of the Regional Pension Groups NHS Employers 16

17 Regional Employer Groups Other NHS Pensions Schemes Quarterly meetings to discuss specific administrative issues. NHS Pensions sends a representative to each group. Regular meetings to discuss mutual administration arrangements in terms of best practice for the NHS Pension Scheme across the three central administration bodies Individual Regional Employer Groups- North West Pension Group, Northern, Humber and Yorkshire Pension Group, North Thames Pension Group West Midlands Pension Group East Midlands Pension Group South West Pension Group Direction Bodies Pension Group When invited: Wales Payroll and Pensions Group East of England Payroll and Pensions Group National Payroll and Pensions Group South Coast South Central NHS Pensions Scheme Scotland and Northern Ireland. We constitute additional arrangements between our various stakeholders depending on circumstance and need. For instance, representatives from various stakeholder groups are involved in specific work programmes and projects. 5: Working with Our Stakeholders 17

18 5.1: Annual Satisfaction Surveys Each year NHS Pensions undertakes satisfaction surveys with both Scheme Members (who have been in recent contact with NHS Pensions) and Scheme Employers. We use these results to track satisfaction levels against a number of criteria to inform our future actions and organisational strategy and share the results with our stakeholders as requested. We will publish results for these surveys on our website and outline any actions that we have agreed to take in response to them. Actions will be agreed with our stakeholders where necessary. A number of activities have been undertaken following feedback from our stakeholders. This includes the provision of calculators and educational videos on the NHS Pension website, the increased resources allocated to our helplines, changes in how we deal with correspondence and administration system changes. Overall Satisfaction Levels (out of 10) for NHS Pensions have been as follows: 2011/ / / / /08 Members Employers

19 6: Our Functions There are many functions that NHS Pensions has the responsibility of delivering. These are outlined within this section under various subject headings. 6.1 Policy Development and Implementation NHS Pensions has an important role in supporting the development and implementation of NHS workforce policy. Our key roles are to: Support the development of future scheme policy through the provision of data, statistics, scheme knowledge and implementation expertise to relevant stakeholders. We seek to undertake this to be a constructive contribution in response to cross government policy priorities and to meet our sponsoring department s objectives. Interpret relevant policy and regulations applicable to administration of the NHS Pension Scheme into business rules. Implement business rules by adapting current or introducing new business processes where necessary working in consultation with relevant stakeholders as required. Ensure that we are fully compliant with the Scheme Regulations from an administrative perspective. Oversee scheme Employers to ensure that they perform their local administration duties escalating instances of non-compliance to the Department of Health, NHS Employers, applicable regulators or Senior NHS Management where necessary. 6) Our Functions 19

20 6.2 Provision of Scheme Information and Administration Tools NHS Pensions has a key role in explaining how the scheme is to be administered and to provide information about its rules and benefits. Our key roles within this are to: Provide the necessary administration tools whether via Pensions Online, spreadsheet or paper forms to Scheme Employers to enable them to undertake their local administration duties. Provide information to stakeholders about how to administer the scheme including notifications of changes in our business processes. Undertake formal scheme disclosure communications with Scheme Members if there is substantive need under scheme rules or as directed by the Scheme s Solicitors Scheme Employers also have a duty to distribute information materials provided by the scheme. Provide general and technical information about the NHS Pension Scheme via our website and a range of booklets. These cover the full range of scheme related subject matter. Across all our communication channels we will work to ensure equality of access as necessary. 20

21 6.3 Administration of Contributions One of the key roles of NHS Pensions is to collect scheme contributions from the Scheme s Employers. To do so we will: Provide annual guidance to all Scheme Employers regarding contributions and how they should be applied to Scheme Members Take receipt of contributions from individual employers and perform a reconciliation assessment against them to determine their accuracy. Process contribution assurance statements and end of year certificates. 6.4 Receipt, Processing and Storage of Membership Data NHS Pensions Service Delivery are completely dependent on the supply and availability of accurate and up-to-date information from Scheme Employers. Our key roles are to: Undertake further data cleanse activities to ensure that the data we hold is completely accurate and up-to-date. We will request additional information from Scheme Employers to achieve this. Undertake an annual exercise with Scheme Employers to receive and process financial year end information for each scheme member. (Note: The specific data items required are outlined in the Employers Charter). Organise regular reconciliation exercises between the NHS Pensions Systems and ESR for applicable Scheme Employers who operate ESR Hold and maintain records for every member and other relevant NHS Employees (such as those who have opted out). NHS Pensions will ensure records are accurate, up to date and complete. Ensure that different systems employed for scheme administration are inherently compatible and fit for purpose. 6) Our Functions 21

22 6.5 Administration of Members Pension Events The central function of NHS Pensions is to process Pension Event applications for Scheme Members undertaking the necessary benefit entitlement checks and calculations as necessary. NHS Pensions operates to meet a set of statutory targets against which we must deliver these various processes. If there is incomplete information available about the Scheme Member then normal processing can be delayed whilst we investigate with the relevant Scheme Employer. Activity What we will do and the timescale that we will do it in. Notes Employers must submit information to NHS Pensions following the applicable process (ESR, POL or Paper Form). New Starters Transfer In Increasing Pensions NHS Pensions will create (or amend) membership, depending on individual circumstances and data integrity, upon receipt of the information as outlined above. NHS Pensions will also check on an individual s eligibility to join the NHS Pension Scheme. If the correct paperwork is completed by the Scheme Member / Employer then NHS Pensions will undertake the necessary process to transfer the accrued rights into the NHS Pension Scheme as per the rules. We will do this within our statutory target of 2 months of receiving the correct paperwork as outlined in the Transfers Pack. If the correct paperwork for Additional Pension is submitted NHS Pensions will process the application within 4 weeks of receiving the application. This is generally a straight forward process complications arise when members have previous or concurrent scheme membership with another Scheme Employer. 22

23 Activity What we will do and the timescale that we will do it in. Notes Protection of Pay NHS Pensions will accept and process applications from Members who wish and are eligible to protect their level of Pensionable Pay. Estimates NHS Pensions will provide estimates to Scheme Members within our statutory target of 40 working days receipt of their application. NHS Pensions provides a system (Pensions Online) that allows Scheme Employers to provide estimates to Scheme Members directly in the majority of circumstances. Pension Sharing NHS Pensions will action Pension Sharing or Earmarking Orders served to the NHS Pensions Scheme by a recognised Court. Scheme Leavers Depending on the Members decision we will either: - Pay a refund (if under two years service) - Defer the Members Membership - Process a Transfer Out request. In all cases NHS Pensions requires notification of leaving from the Scheme Employer. Premature Retirements NHS Pensions will provide estimates to Scheme Members within our statutory target of 40 working days of receipt of their application. 6) Our Functions 23

24 Activity What we will do and the timescale that we will do it in. Notes Ill Health Retirees NHS Pensions will medically certify applications for ill health retirement with an independent medical advisor. If the application is accepted then we will calculate and pay the entitled benefits. On receipt of a completed AW8 form we will process and pay eligible scheme benefits within 30 days of entitlement. In cases of serious Ill Health NHS Pensions will work with Scheme Employers to process applications and pay due benefits as soon as possible. Bereavement NHS Pensions will process completed applications for Initial Survivor Benefits, Spouse Benefits and Child Allowance within 1 month of receiving notification of the death. Retirees We request that applications (via a corrected completed AW8 form) are made three months before the date of retirement to provide sufficient time for processing to enable payments to begin from the first day of retirement. NHS Pensions will endeavour to process any late applications received in time for the first day of retirement but cannot provide guarantees that it will do so. 24

25 6.6 Scheme Accountancy and Valuation NHS Pensions has an important role to report and monitor the financial position of the NHS Pension Scheme. We must: Prepare and finalise the annual NHS Pension Scheme accounts. Work to understand the current value of the Scheme and its future liabilities. Work with the Government Actuaries Department to provide the necessary information for them to value the NHS Pension Scheme. 6.7 Other Important Activities NHS Pensions also undertakes the following activities: Provide a regular Greenbury Exercise to provide requesting employers with information about the pension entitlements of senior staff members for financial reporting purposes. Provide information to potentially affected Scheme Members regarding the Annual Allowance. Develop and implement the Total Reward Statements project on behalf of the Department of Health in partnership with NHS Employers and NHS Electronic Staff Record. Administrate (on behalf of the Secretary of State) the application and ongoing management of Direction Bodies and the Scheme Members they employ. Respond to Freedom of Information and Subject Access Requests as per the timescales set out in legislation. Leading on all Scheme disclosure requirements to provide appropriate information to members as necessary (in partnership with local employers). Undertake a regular benchmarking exercise to compare our services against other pension scheme administrators. 6) Our Functions 25

26 To operate the abatement process for re-employed scheme retirees or ill-health (Tier 2) retirees. Registration of Death Benefit Nominations. Perform a monitoring role as to the effectiveness of local administration highlighting cases of inadequate administration to the Department of Health, NHS Employers, applicable regulators and Senior NHS Management where necessary. Maintain and regularly update a database of scheme employers contact details to enable effective communication and scheme administration. Administer the Voluntary Protection of Pay arrangements available within the Scheme. Handle media enquiries pertaining to administration of the NHS Pension Scheme. 26

27 7: What support do we provide? NHS Pensions is determined to provide and maintain a high level of customer service and support. This section outlines the services that we provide. 7.1 Contacting us for help or assistance NHS Pensions operates a modern in-house contact centre facility for both Scheme Members and Scheme Employers. We have dedicated phone lines and addresses as follows: Scheme Members: Member Helpline: (Opening Hours are: 8am 6pm Monday to Friday) via contact us page on website: https://www.nhspa.gov.uk/pdweb/contact/contact_us.cfm Scheme Employers: Employer Helpline: (Opening Hours are: 8am 6pm Monday to Friday) Note: Our service standards for our telephone service are outlined in Section 3 of this document. We endeavour to answer all queries and calls at the first line and have a robust referral service in place if this is not possible. We have dedicated systems to provide all of our call handling staff with information to answer your queries. This works on an incremental basis and will become more detailed and powerful over time. We expect to reply or acknowledge all s within a maximum of 5 days from receipt. If we are unable to do this we will provide a holding response and seek to provide an answer within 20 working days. If you write to us by post then we will provide a response within 15 working days. 7: Contacting us for help or assistance 27

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